To enter a competition such as Great British Menu, as well as having skill, creativity and flair, a chef should also expect to bring a certain degree of bravado to the table. At the beginning of the rounds for the London and South East heats, our chefs didn’t let us down. Mark Froydenlund, head chef at Marcus Wareing’s Marcus in The Berkeley, had just missed out by a narrow margin in last year’s competition. But he was back with a point to prove and a fearsome menu to boot. Newcomer Russell Bateman, head chef at The Grove, also looked down the lens of the camera and announced the he was here to ‘show who I am and to show what I can do on a plate’. Then Robbie Murray, former head chef for Mark Hix, walked in all steely eyed, and he just sniffed at the other two. He might do simple food. But it ain’t easy food.
These were, as is common parlance in London, tough geezers.
However, then the mighty and ebullient Richard Corrigan walked into the room and boy did the needle come scratching off the record. Russell even went so far as to say, ‘Ah bloody ‘ell, not ‘im.’ With a facial expression that is. Yes, Richard the Irish Inquisitor unnerved our chefs all week and the really clever (and funny) thing is, he can change the mood in a second, with the lightest of utterances. ‘Do you think that is seasoned enough?’ – boom, the doubts would come pouring in.